Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
UK Government’s Religious Hatred Bill Defeated; Christians Rejoice
Evangelicals and Christian groups celebrated after news that the British government’s Racial and Religious Hatred Bill was rejected by the House of Commons. Prime Minister Tony Blair faced up to a dramatic defeat last night after he failed to cast the vote that would have saved his Government from defeat over plans to create the new legislation. An amended version of the Bill will go on to the statute book. Under the amendments, only "threatening" behavior will be deemed illegal, which removes the government’s attempt to outlaw "abusive or insulting" actions. The Bill was also changed to ensure that individuals could only be prosecuted if they intended to incite hatred. The decision by the Commons will delight evangelicals, who have been rallying efforts to fight the original Bill since last year. “The victory is with us for sure,” said Barbara Elele, 36, a member of the Christ Faith Tabernacle church in London who came to rally. “Where few are gathered, the Lord is there.” The Evangelical Alliance and the African and Caribbean Evangelical Alliance (ACEA) had released the warning commenting on the “immense” negative implications that would arise should the government’s version of the Bill be passed.
Pope Says Lent Is Time to See Others through Eyes of Christ
Especially with fasting and almsgiving, Lent is a time to learn how to see others with the eyes of Christ and to express his compassion for the poor, Pope Benedict XVI said. "In the face of the terrible challenge of poverty afflicting so much of the world's population, indifference and self-centered isolation stand in stark contrast to the gaze of Christ," he said in his message for Lent 2006. The pope's message was released Jan. 31 at the Vatican. This year, Lent begins March 1, Ash Wednesday. In the message, the pope encouraged Catholics to try during Lent to see and to react to those suffering around them with the same attitude Jesus showed in St. Matthew's Gospel, which says, "Jesus, at the sight of the crowds, was moved with pity." Pope Benedict said responding to the needs of others like Christ meant not only meeting their material needs, but also offering them the Gospel. "It is quite impossible to separate the response to people's material and social needs from the fulfillment of the profound desires of their hearts," he said.
Pro-Family Groups Applaud Alito Confirmation
After Samuel Alito was confirmed to US Supreme Court, pro-family groups celebrated the confirmation while applauding Alito for gracefully enduring the ‘outrageous’ scrutiny of some Democrats during his confirmation hearings. Jan LaRue with Concerned Women for America is glad the Senate didn’t strike Judge Alito. Jordan Lorence with the Alliance Defense Fund thinks Justice Alito will have a positive effect on the courts. “We are going to see, with him replacing Sandra Day O’Connor, is in the areas of equal access law, separation of Church and State, and partial-birth abortion. I think we are going to see all changes for the good.” Upholding the rule of law will be a priority with Alito on the bench according to Bruce Hausknecht with Focus on the Family Action. For the last 40 years he says liberals have had control of the Supreme Court. “That has resulted in all kinds of judicial legislating on areas like same-sex marriage, homosexual rights, and religious liberties being squashed.” The vote was 58-42 in favor of Alito with 4 Democrats joining 54 Republicans in supporting his nomination.
Public Outcry Rises against Hindu Extremists' Attack on Christians
25 Christians were severely beaten by Hindu attackers in the central Indian city of Bhopal. Michigan-based Mission India confirms the attack took place during a private prayer meeting on Saturday. A mob, armed with hockey stick-like clubs, broke into a private residence shortly after a group of Christians began a prayer meeting. Of those injured in the attack, eight were injured seriously enough to require medical attention, five of whom remain hospitalized. The attack was the fourth incident in as many days in Madhya Pradesh state. "The Christians here are quite positive about the response, said Mission India president Dave Stravers. “It's one of the first times that we've found that a public attack against Christians there seems to be a rather widespread public condemnation of the attack." Media coverage fell on the side of the Christians. In fact, the message of the stories, notes Straver, was that 'this was not acceptable in a country with religious freedom, to attack people in their own home, and worshipping their own God.' The Minorities Commission, similar to the U-S' Civil Rights Commission, on Monday, publicly condemned the attack.